The International Criminal Court has announced plans to try the Ivory Coast's former president, Laurent Gbagbo, for crimes against humanity related to the months of violence that followed his 2010 election defeat.
Between November 28, 2010 and May 8, 2011, Gbagbo's forces are alleged to have killed between 706 and 1,059 people and raped more than 35 women, prosecutors say.
The ICC's pre-trial chamber "confirmed by majority four charges of crimes against humanity against Laurent Gbagbo and committed him for trial", the court said in a statement.
The charges include murder, rape and other sexual violence, persecution and other "inhuman acts" committed during post-election violence in the West African nation that claimed more than 3,000 lives.
Gbagbo, 69, is the first former head of state brought before the ICC, where he is accused of masterminding a campaign of violence during a long stand-off over the vote that brought current President Alassane Ouattara to power.
Gbagbo, who ruled the world's largest cocoa producer for a decade, maintains that he was evicted from the presidency as the result of a plot masterminded by former colonial ruler France.
The ICC charges are for allegedly fomenting a wave of violence as he refused to hand over power. He has denied the charges against him.
The court had to decide if there were "substantial grounds to believe that Gbagbo committed the crimes" and should be charged.
Gbagbo was handed over to the court in November 2011, but a hearing to confirm the charges in February last year requested that ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda provide additional evidence against him.
The court said it analysed statements from 108 witnesses, more than 22,000 pages of documentary evidence, as well as a large amount of audio and video material.
Gbagbo is accused of "having engaged his individual criminal responsibility for committing these crimes, jointly with members of his inner circle and through members of the pro-Gbagbo forces", the court said.
The prosecution says Gbagbo was determined to "stay in power by all means ... through carefully planned, sustained and deadly attacks" against Ouattara supporters.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-06-12